Tiv Dararith has turned his passion for cycling into a fund-raising mission that has taken him across six countries in Asia, raising more than $50,000 for Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) and allowing him to discover a love of photography, while also promoting tourism in his homeland.
During his three-month cycling adventure, the 34-year-old exceeded his $50,000 fund-raising goal for Siem Reap’s AHC while documenting the beauty of Asia’s tourism destinations.
As part of his mission, Dararith connected with people along the way, inspiring them to support his cause and make a difference for children in need.
Dararith, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, has turned his love for travel into a remarkable part-time job. He has cycled 9,750km across Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Along the way, Dararith, known as Travel with Rith, has discovered his talent for photography and producing captivating content that promotes tourism in the countries he travels through.
Born in Preah Veng province, Dararith moved to Phnom Penh more than a decade ago to pursue his degree. He is the only male among five siblings, and the fourth child in his family.
Reflecting on his cycling journey, he recalls where it all started - a memorable encounter with a generous Canadian cyclist who inspired him to start biking from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
"Riding a bike is fantastic," Dararith expressed with enthusiasm. "On the way, I met a lot of people and, even though it was slow, cycling made me happy. I encountered wonderful experiences and witnessed breathtaking scenery."
The bicycle he rode was a gift from the Canadian cyclist, which further fueled his love for cycling.
Dararith is currently embarking on a cycling adventure throughout Cambodia. His journey will take him through the Kravanh Mountains, or Cardamom Mountains, Khnong Phsar Mountain, and Ratanakiri.
This venture serves his purpose to contribute to society while capturing captivating content and photographs that promote Cambodia's tourism industry.
During an interview, Dararith expressed his passion for outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, motorcycling, and cycling.
“I use my skills to promote tourism and my love for natural resources. My content combines these natural resources and tourism, especially in remote areas,” he said, adding that he hopes his content can inspire people to explore remote areas and appreciate the country's natural beauty.
When arriving at eco-tourism sites, Dararith communicates with tourism agencies to promote these areas. He believes this is a way to increase income for local communities and protect the environment.
"When people love nature, they will protect it. My travel experiences allow me to contribute to this cause," he explained.
Since 2017, Dararith has traveled extensively across Cambodia, gaining a deep understanding of the realities faced by its people, particularly children. As a developing country, Cambodia struggles with a lack of schools, hospitals, and access to medicine.
Deeply moved by these challenges, Dararith is determined to make a difference. "I constantly think about how I can travel and contribute to these communities, especially in remote areas where basic amenities like schools and teachers are lacking," he shared.
Cycling for charity
Dararith embarked on an ambitious journey across Asia, representing the aspirations of young Cambodians. The idea took shape in 2023, as Cambodia began recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
His journey through Asia combined charity and tourism promotion, surpassing fundraising goals amidst challenges to raise money for AHC, under the title ‘South-East Asia Bike Tour - Cycling for Charity’.
At the start of his venture, he didn’t yet have the resources, so he waited until he was ready. However, he shared, "One day I started a cycling project in Asia that I posted on social media platforms wanting to represent young Cambodians and promote tourism. At the same time, the hospital contacted me."
Dararith said that he had not dared to dream of embarking on a cycling project that would promote tourism and contribute to a charitable cause.
The initial preparations for the project were challenging, with a short timeframe to set up advertisements and coordinate logistics. However, when the hospital reached out to Dararith, seeking someone to help alleviate funding constraints, such as SAI (Run with Sai), content creators, and influencers.
Recognizing the potential synergy between his cycling project and the hospital's needs, Dararith seized the chance to achieve both his goals simultaneously. With just one month of preparation, the hospital also dedicated one week to coordinating their efforts, he stated.
Dararith acknowledged that while cycling itself was manageable due to his six years of experience, time management posed a significant challenge. Balancing his cycling adventure with other responsibilities and commitments proved demanding.
"I started with the support of my family, friends, and small-scale supporters, but the journey was not without difficulties. However, I persevered," he said.
The initial fundraising target of $50,000 seemed daunting to Dararith, who recognized the need for dedicated effort and support. He explained, "The goal was huge for me as it required tremendous hard work and relied heavily on our popularity. With limited assistance and the demands of travel."
Nevertheless, Dararith's determination paid off as he has not only achieved but surpassed the fundraising goal, while combining his love for cycling with a desire to promote tourism.
Reflecting on his journey, Dararith emphasized the challenges he faced, from unpredictable weather conditions to navigating risks on the road. "Cycling alone forces you to confront your thoughts and contemplate the what-ifs. I consider it an adventure that embraces challenges," he stated.
The fundraising activities spanned three months, during which Dararith tirelessly sought support from individuals and supporters. His unwavering commitment to the cause inspired many to rally behind him and contribute to the campaign’s success.
"When people appreciate and are willing to make sacrifices to take on challenges, they support and join in making even the smallest contributions to charity. That's why we managed to raise over $60,000," Dararith proudly shared.
He emerged triumphant from his challenging journey across the five countries, battling against unpredictable weather, climate change, accidents, and tire issues.
Dararith's determination and unwavering spirit drove him forward. He said that with an average cycling speed of 4 to 5 km an hour cycling in mountainous regions of western Vietnam where progress was slower, covering only 30 to 40km daily. In normal weather and road conditions, he reached distances of 150 to 200km a day.
Reflecting on his journey, Dararith asked himself, "Do I return to my homeland?"
The challenges he faced were numerous, but he was determined to overcome each, emphasizing the importance of perseverance. "Every problem I encountered, I needed to face head-on, achieve it, and move forward. If I survived, I succeeded," he remarked.
Taking risks and facing challenges became a source of focus and strength for Dararith. Rather than feeling anxious or worried, he channeled his emotions into problem-solving and maintaining a positive mindset.
However, the challenges themselves were not the sole memories he cherished. Dararith vividly recalled the kindness and goodwill he encountered along the way from people of various Asian nations.
"When I arrived in Vietnam, they greeted me with respect. These individuals, aware that I was cycling for Cambodian children, offered me food and places to stay. Their praise and support were overwhelming," Dararith shared.
He was particularly touched by the kindness shown in Thailand when his bike broke down. The local bike shop not only assisted him but also provided free repairs and a place to stay.
"The generosity and hospitality of our ASEAN neighbors in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore left a lasting impression. It is essential to acknowledge that there are countless good-hearted people in these nations," he added, hoping to send a message of unity and understanding.
"If I were to give up or fail, I would not be a role model for them. They rely on us, and they are waiting for us. Giving up was never an option; the only path was achievement," he affirmed.
Returning home victorious and having successfully raised funds for the cause, Dararith felt a deep sense of happiness. He believed that by representing the children in the hospital, he has brought hope to their lives.
"When I faced setbacks, they faced setbacks too," he acknowledged. The experience taught him the importance of doing good and acting with love. Dararith firmly believes that when actions are driven by genuine love and passion, they garner support and participation from others.
He also emphasized the need to refrain from harboring extreme hatred towards nations or engaging in arguments between countries.
Dararith views such negativity as counterproductive, leading to violence, anger, and foolishness. Instead, he sought to foster love and understanding between nations, sharing smiles and spreading love. "Love triumphs over hate," he declared.
Dararith’s journey to raise funds for Cambodian children has been accomplished with a deep sense of pride and love for his society. He emphasized that while some people may label him a "hero", Dararith humbly acknowledges that the true heroes are the founders of Kantha Bopha Hospital, Dr. Beat Richner, and ACH.
"I am not a hero. The word 'hero' should be reserved for individuals like Dr. Beat Richner, who dedicated their entire lives to the well-being of Cambodian children," Dararith said. He views himself as a representative of the younger generation, cycling for a mere three months to contribute to the cause.
Dr. Beat Richner, founder of Kantha Bopha Hospital, devoted his life to providing medical care to Cambodian children. His relentless efforts and selflessness in establishing and managing the hospital have saved countless lives. Dararith holds Dr. Richner in the highest regard and believes that the word "hero" accurately applies to him.
Similarly, Dararith acknowledges the founder of ACH who, in addition to being a photographer, faced shortages in the hospital's resources to contribute to the cause, so the founder sold their photographs.
Displaying unwavering dedication and sacrifice, Dararith firmly believes that these individuals are the true heroes who have made significant contributions to society.
Reflecting on the role of individuals in society, Dararith emphasizes that it is not an obligation but a responsibility to contribute. He believes that self-improvement, acquiring knowledge, professionalism, and maintaining an optimistic mindset are essential for personal growth and subsequently benefiting one's family and society as a whole.
"We must first help ourselves and strive for higher education. By doing so, we can then help our families and eventually contribute to society," Dararith asserted.
While Dararith highlights the importance of sustainable systems and not relying solely on fundraising through cycling, he does not discourage others from engaging in similar efforts. He hopes that as children grow into adults, they will become even stronger.
“My vision for the next generation is to build a society where self-sufficiency and sustainable solutions are the norm,” Dararith noted. He envisions a future where raising funds through cycling becomes unnecessary as the younger generation takes charge and creates their own systems to support society.
Dararith encouraged individuals to find work that they truly love and pursue it wholeheartedly. Drawing from his own journey, he urged others not to follow his path but to discover their own passions and contribute to society from the depths of their hearts.
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